- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Lamp with Gladatorial Scenes
- Lighting Devices
- Work Type
- lighting device
- 1st century CE
- Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
- Roman Imperial period, Early
- Physical Descriptions
- 39 x 19.3 cm (15 3/8 x 7 5/8 in.)
- Robert E. Hecht, Jr., sold; to the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1967-2007), transfer; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 2007.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- Very large terracotta lamp. Broad base. Underside of deep reservoir flares up- and outward with almost straight walls. Slightly sloping rim separated from sunken discus by two ridges defined by narrower ridges. Discus decorated in relief with gladiatorial accoutrements: a pair of leg-greaves, a pair of wrist-guards, two shields, two swords, and two helmets. Small central filling hole surrounded by a ridge also surrounded on either side by a narrower ridge. Double volute nozzle with broad tips and large wick holes. Some restoration at tips of nozzles. Double-leaf or heart-shaped decoration between volutes on the bridge of each nozzle. Horizontal perforated handle supports large, intact triangular handle ornament with decoration in relief: Victory standing beside an altar, holding a cornucopia in her right hand and a trophy (tropaeum) in her left. A shield rests on the altar. Victory is flanked by two Lares (household gods) presenting ritual offerings.
Buff fabric with mottled brick-red slip.
Classification: D. Bailey, A catalogue of the lamps in the British Museum vol. II (British Museum Publications, 1988), Type D.
- A lamp is a lighting device, which is fueled by oil. Roman lamps are typically made of either terracotta or bronze and are mold-made. Typically, the body is round and closed on top and there is a nozzle with a pick. Terracotta lamps are usually decorated with a wide variety of motifs. In houses, lamps may have stood on the top of a candelabrum (See: 1960.482) to light a room.
Likely modeled upon more prestigious examples in bronze, this double-nozzled lamp is an unusually large example with decorations that represent gladiatorial themes.The leg-greaves, wrist-guards, helmets, and shields found on the discus identify the gladiators as Thracian and Samnite (1). With the scene of Victory on the handle this lamp may commemorate a particular series of games.
1. For similar motifs on the discus see a single-nozzled lamp in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 74.51.2028
- Publication History
Sidney Goldstein, "A Terracotta Lamp in the McDaniel Collection", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1968), Vol. 73, pp. 291-303, pp. 291-303, pls. I-IV, V:1
- Exhibition History
Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008
Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
- Subjects and Contexts
Roman Domestic Art
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